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Nats have held us back for four years

Written By: - Date published: 7:47 am, May 8th, 2013 - 20 comments
Categories: debt / deficit, economy, national, spin - Tags: , , ,

It has always been clear that the NZ economy would get back on its feet one day. Thanks to the previous Labour government’s prudence (zero net government debt) we weathered the global financial crisis in good shape and were out of recession in the June quarter of 2009, before the Nats’ first budget.

We should have taken off again then, like Australia, but Australia had a plan and we did not. We had the Nats. Their misguided “expansionary austerity” budgets stifled the recovery. Instead of “roaring out of recession” or the “aggressive recovery” that we were promised, we have just limped along – because the Nats cut when they should have (like Australia) stimulated the economy.

The evidence for the foolishness of austerity measures is growing ever stronger, as Britain (where the Tories are the leading proponents of this nonsense) has gone to the brink of a triple dip recession. Paul Krugman has been leading the criticism:

Paul Krugman’s call to arms against austerity

An interview with the Nobel prize-winning economist, whose book roundly attacks the ‘delusional’ deficit-reduction strategy

…More than four years on, austerity is being questioned as never before, not least because most countries implementing a deficit-reduction policy have failed to grow. Krugman, his blog and comments on Twitter, have become the focal point for objectors worldwide.

Speaking to the Guardian to publicise the second edition of his book End This Depression Now, he argues that his battle will go on until policymakers realise that their reliance on deficit reduction is a “delusional” misreading of basic economics. But despite his persistent criticism, austerity remains the default position for most western governments.

Here in NZ our own Bernard Hickey is the voice of reason (though he could learn a thing or two about snappy headlines!):

NZ PM Key defends government drive to return to surplus and start reducing debt despite doubts overseas that ‘expansionary austerity’ is actually working

Prime Minister John Key has defended the government’s focus on returning to budget surplus and reducing the government’s debt load, saying it made sense to strengthen the nation’s balance sheet through government debt reduction, given households remained indebted and foreign debt was still high.

He also warned that higher debt could trigger credit rating downgrades that increased New Zealand’s interest rate premiums.

His comments followed intense debate over the last month in Europe and the United States over a strategy of reducing government debt to improve economic growth rates.

The strategy has relied on academic research by US economics professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff into the connections between government debt and economic growth, in particular in this academic paper ‘Growth in a time of debt’ published in 2010. It suggested a tipping point was reached when government debt rose over 90%, significantly reducing growth rates to below zero%.

However, those conclusions were questioned last month in another academic paper which said the Reinhart/Rogoff was based on a spreadsheet error and was skewed by the omission of data on episodes of high debt, including, most importantly, in New Zealand from 1946 to 1949, when our country showed both high growth and high debt. …

However, Key said the government remained committed to its strategy of returning to surplus by 2014/15 and then reducing debt from almost 30% of GDP in 2017 to 20% of GDP by 2020. The Reserve Bank pointed out in its March Monetary Policy Statement that the government’s austerity strategy was driving a tightening of fiscal policy equivalent to 3.2% of GDP over the next four years, which was a factor dampening momentum in the economy.

Well we’ve been here before, but currently we have  another round of “green shoots of recovery” type stories, and talk of an optimistic budget.  No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more of this spin, but keep in mind that the bulk of those “green shoots” are due to factors beyond the Nats’ bidding (the stimulus of the Christchurch rebuild, and the good performance of old Labour-built assets the NZ Super fund and ACC). Unfortunately as Russel Norman points out, the real economy of the jobs market and the tradeable sector is still getting worse.  

We will get there in the end no doubt, but it will be in spite of this bungling Natational government, not because of them. All National have done is hold us back for four years.

20 comments on “Nats have held us back for four years”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    But despite his persistent criticism, austerity remains the default position for most western governments.

    Yeah, and the reason why that is so is because austerity helps transfer the communities wealth into the hands of the few. Stimulatory policies, like raising taxes on the rich and increased government spending, do the opposite.

    Prime Minister John Key has defended the government’s focus on returning to budget surplus and reducing the government’s debt load…

    So, how much per week is this government presently borrowing?

    What we really need to do is drop the delusional economics system and the theory that supports it. Until we do that, our society will always be held back and poverty will be rampant.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 1.1

      “…do the opposite.”

      Are you sure? My impression was that austerity gives them (the “few”) a larger percentage of a much smaller pie, so they end up worse off in real terms.

      Probably just faulty memory on my part.

      • Pascal's bookie 1.1.1

        Over the long run. But given the marginal utility value of a dollar when you are pulling in millions of the damn things, the only thing that counts is the relativities. Real terms doesnae get a look in, the numbers are as arbitrary as a role playing game’s ‘Experience points’ score.

      • mickysavage 1.1.2

        It is the creation of a crisis that is all important. Once the crisis is going they then have to hock all of the state assets off to their mates. Then they just sit back and wait for the money to start rolling in …

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.1

          +1

          Exactly and that is what this government are doing. Create or use a crisis to sell off the states assets making the people poorer but a few very much richer as they now own and control the resources that the many need – the resources that the many once owned.

        • Rich the other 1.1.2.2

          Why don’t you buy a few shares ?, there’s still time to become one of their mates.

          • Murray Olsen 1.1.2.2.1

            Why not? Maybe because I believe society exists and those who want all the wealth for themselves are parasitic scum. Maybe I know that a rising tide lifts all boats, but many of my fellow humans have had their boats taken off them, or have never had one. Maybe I’m just choosy about my mates.

          • Mike S 1.1.2.2.2

            Yeah, I agree, he should eat cake too.

            twat

  2. Pascal's bookie 2

    Remember when English step-changed the economy away from the housing sector and towards productive ‘proper’ jobs by slashing the shit out tof he top marginal tax rates?

    Remember when after that, when it didn’t seem to be working, he defended himself by saying that the low unemployment under Labour led governments was fake because it was propped up by house price inflation?

    Now watch this drive. *schwing*

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Outstanding (though US-centric) documentary on massive inequality, the attitudes and people which have brought it about, and what to do about it.

  4. ianmac 4

    National has mis-managed the Economy for Fourrr Loooong Years and ……..

  5. DH 5

    Nats might be crap but this guy doesn’t inspire any confidence either;

    “David Parker: The rights and wrongs of regulation”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10882038

    Parker is saying he wants to remove a lot of the existing regulations in the ‘competitive markets’. Nice one, an open invite to every white collar crook in the country.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Yep, just as it was in the 1980s and 1990s. The reason why the 5th Labour government actually started putting that regulation back.

    • Enough is Enough 5.2

      I have often qustioned Parker’s commitment to the labour movement. He loves the politics of opposing the Nats but I quite often think he would be better suited in their camp.

      I don’t think he will advance the movement in a way a labour finance minister should.

      • DH 5.2.1

        He does give that impression. These free market theorists just don’t seem to grasp the fact that business attracts a lot of ethically challenged people, they’ve got this bizarre notion that competition keeps everyone honest. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        The easiest way to be ‘competitive’ in business is to bend & break the laws. If we don’t have strong regulation, and even more important robust enforcement of regulation, then we end up with the wrong people dominating the business sector. That’s pretty much the scenario we have now and he wants to let more of them in.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          +1

          Without regulation we don’t have a market – we have a free-for-all with the biggest and meanest sharks ‘winning’.

  6. Grantoc 6

    “The real economy of the job market…..is still getting worse”

    Really.

    If Norman is referring to unemployment, this is currently around 6.9% in NZ and predicted to drop to 6.8% in the very near future. During the whole of the GFC period it’s remained well below 10%, a regular level for most other western countries,.

    Australia and the US currently enjoy similar unemployment rates to NZ.

    Most European countries still experience unemployment at 12% or above. It was a lot higher during the period of the GFC.

    The basket case economies of Greece and Spain (maybe Ireland too) are in the 25% -30% unemployment range. (Partly as a result of the growth of the state at the expense of the private sector).

    By contrast NZ has done very well both economically in general and in the job market in particular.

    Norman either doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or he’s making it up for political reasons.

    • Mike S 6.1

      Or maybe you don’t understand how politicians arrive at an unemployment figure in this country?

      If it wasn’t for all those people moving to Aussie and all the jobs needed for rebuilding Christchurch, even the official figure would be horrendous.

      But you hit the nail on the head in regards to the direction of this article. European countries are practicing austerity and have high unemployment. The basket cases have extreme austerity and extreme unemployment.

      Austerity does not (and has never in the history of economics) worked.

      • Grantoc 6.1.1

        Mike

        I note I was conservative in my assumption about how much unemployment would drop by in NZ; as you will have heard its dropped to 6.2% according to the latest figures. I also note that the number of new jobs has increased. These are official figures; not those spun by politicians.

        I’m ambivalent about the austerity verses throwing money at the problem argument. I suspect that decisions on this should be made on a case by case basis.

        In the case of Greece in particular austerity is inevitable because of the way that government and that society recklessly spent and squandered borrowed money. In their case most of the borrowings were spent on such things as unrealistically generous superannuation plans; a bloated public service (public service jobs for life/salaries significantly higher than the private sector etc), massive tax avoidance and so on. Little if any of the borrowed money went on stimulating the productive sector of the economy – which is the point presumably of “throwing money at the problem”.

        Greece and, I suspect, Spain’s extremely high unemployment rates are an outcome of this economic behaviour; austerity is the consequence not the cause.

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    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    4 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    4 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    5 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    5 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    5 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    5 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    6 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    6 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    6 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago

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